Monday, September 29, 2008

Students stage protest in Sittwe

Than Htike Oo
Monday, 29 September 2008 21:44

Chiang Mai – The local residents said that the students from Sittwe Technical College staged demonstration by marching in procession on Monday morning in protest of non-availability of school ferry.

About 250 Sittwe Technical College of Sittwe situated at Yechanpyin Ward, Rakhine State came back from school by marching in procession.

This opposition movement arisen from the region filled with opposition spirit and having high anti-government attitude, scared the authority.

"The school ferry followed the protesting students and met them at Bandoola junction, about 8 miles from their college, but the students refused to board the ferry and came back to their homes on foot", one of the demonstrators said.

This is the exam period and the students staged demonstration in protest of school authority's harsh treatment to them in dealing with them, he said.

Sittwe Technical College responded by phone, “Nothing happened, everything is over and OK", when contacted by Mizzima.

About 150 monks launched silent protest of marching in procession in Sittwe on Saturday morning marking the first anniversary of Saffron Revolution.

This demonstration erupted amid the tight security imposed in all major cities in Burma to prevent the fresh monks-led demonstration again.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Myanmar's deadly ruby trade

A year after Myanmar's saffron revolution was crushed, CNN's Dan Rivers reports how rubies are propping up the junta.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Laura Bush: India, China must help on Myanmar

President Bush, left, and first lady Laura Bush, center, listen to U Kovida, right, a monk from Myanmar, after posing for a group photo with with political dissidents on Governors Island, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008, in New York.

President Bush, center, and first lady Laura Bush, poses for a group photo with political dissidents on Governors Island, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008, in New York. At far right is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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Myanmar frees longest-serving political prisoner

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's longest-serving political prisoner, journalist Win Tin, was freed on Tuesday after 19 years in prison and immediately vowed to continue his struggle against 46 years of military rule.

"I will keep fighting until the emergence of democracy in this country," he told reporters outside a friend's house in the former Burma's main city, Yangon. He was still wearing his light-blue prison clothes.

The ailing 79-year old was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for giving shelter to a girl thought to have received an illegal abortion, and for distributing anti-government propaganda.

He was released on the same day that 9,002 prisoners were set free, but said he had complained to prison officials about being lumped in as part of a nationwide amnesty for mainly ordinary criminals getting out on good behaviour.

"I did not accept their terms for the amnesty. I refused to be one of 9,002," he said, adding that no conditions had been attached to his release.

"Far from it. They should have released me five years ago. They owe me a few years," he said.

He also played down worries about his health, which many human rights groups had feared was in severe decline.

"I am quite OK. I am quite all right," he said.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Alan Raybould and Valerie Lee)

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Brad Pitt's Burma donation

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have donated $1 million to charity.

The couple's non-profit organisation the Jolie-Pitt Foundation has given the generous sum to the Human Rights Watch's work in Burma and Zimbabwe.

Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director, welcomed the donation, saying: "Burma and Zimbabwe are two of the most repressive countries in the world and we need to increase international pressure on them to change.

"Brad and Angelina's investment in our work at this critical moment will allow intensified efforts by our researchers to expose the repression that these governments try to keep hidden and by our advocates to generate the global pressure needed to improve people's lives."

Brad, 44, and 33-year-old Angelina's contribution will go towards funding research and advocacy in the two countries.

The Human Rights Watch is an independent organisation dedicated to exposing human rights violations and protecting people at risk of discrimination throughout the world.

Earlier this month, the generous duo - who have six children together - handed over $2 million to fund a children's home in Ethiopia. Their adopted three-year-old daughter Zahara was born in the African country.

The couple also run a health centre in Cambodia, where their seven-year-old son Maddox was born.

In June, the Jolie-Pitt Foundation donated $1 million to children affected by the Iraq war.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Saffron Revolution: bloodstained line between good and evil

May Ng
Saturday, 20 September 2008 20:17

On 17 September 2008, the International Burmese Monks Organization held a silent protest prayer in front of the Burmese embassy in New York, to commemorate the first anniversary of 'the Saffron Revolution.' Almost everyone who walked by gave the Burmese monks thumbs-up, and some expressed obeisance.

Defying orders of the military junta, 60 Burmese monks also gathered in Sittwe on September 18, in memory of last year's protest inside Burma. And it seems that even after one year, the monks in Burma—the most tyrannical and totalitarian of the states studied-- as per Martin J. Dent (2004), are still a force to be reckoned with. Though subtle, their influence through prayers of loving kindness has already been felt across the globe.

During the Saffron Revolution last year, the United States became a key advocate for the Burmese democracy movement, and found itself leading the international allies in support of the Burmese monks. This in turn helped ease the tension caused by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, between the United States and its allies. And last August, first lady Laura Bush visited Karen refugee camps on Thai-Burma border on her way to the Beijing Olympics. It was a significant gesture because the Karen's 60 years struggle for autonomous rights remains one of the most bitter and volatile crisis in Burma today.

For unfortunate and tragic reasons, extreme ethnocentric nationalism of the Burmese military was already deeply entrenched, well before the independence of Burma. According to David Brown, an expert in ethnic politics in Asia, "in 1942 Burman members of the Burma Independence Army (BIA) massacred Karens in the Salween District, whom they regarded as British collaborators. This heightened Karen distrust of Burman domination so that, by 1947 many of them were demanding the formation of a British Karen colony which would remain separate from 'Burman Proper'. When the British failed to back this demand, the Karens felt betrayed."

Benedict Rogers (2004) wrote that the subsequent 1947 Constitution did not have any provisions for a Karen State and the entire question of the Karen's future was left to be decided after independence. And according to Jack Fong (2008), by this time many leaders of the Burman leaders were convinced that a postcolonial conspiracy, namely the British and Americans, would be harnessing the Karen resistance as a vehicle to destabilize the country. The ensuing violence from this belief caused a deep division in both the Burman and Karen communities which has never been healed.

And thus the longest and most stubborn struggle for ethnic rights for self-determination was born at the same time world's most enduring totalitarianism began to take root in Burma. No one should underestimate the root cause that continues to fuel the iron grip of Burmese military junta. From its inception, not only the extreme nationalism binds the Burmese military together, more importantly it is the lavish lifestyle of its elites, at the expense of entire Burma's economy, that keeps them toeing the line.

Even today, the Burmese military regularly accuses its opponents of being western collaborators. But, on the contrary, historical evidence indicates that it is the army, which profits from outside engagement and aid, beginning with arms shipment to Burma from Britain and India at the time of independence.

Though Americans have fought alongside the Burmese Army against fascism during World War II in Burma, it was the Americans' support for the Kuomintang (KMT) forces inside Burma's territory that had the most profound geopolitical effect on Burma for years to come. The KMT's incursion into the Shan State only a few years after independence drew the hyper-nationalistic Burmese forces into the virgin Shan territory, for the first time in its history. And these intrusions precipitated a half century long occupation and plundering of Shan State by the Burmese Army--breaching the promises of Panglong agreement made during independence.

In addition Ne Win's regime benefited handsomely from aid received from the west by playing the neutrality card carefully during cold war era, while developing relationships with Eastern Bloc nations and China, at the same time. The current SLORC/SPDC military regime continues to turn aid received from outside into profit for the army. According to Shelby Tucker (2001), in the eighties the United States supplied Burma with helicopters, aircrafts, pilot-training, and herbicide for eradication of opium up to the time of 1988 uprising. The Burmese Army used the herbicide to assist its partners in narcotic trade by spraying only their competitors' opium crops. They also used herbicide provided by the United States for the purpose of ethnic cleansing by poisoning the drinking water that made many hill tribe villagers violently ill.

The recent experiences from Cyclone Nargis' humanitarian aid operation suggest that given an opportunity Burmese military regime will stop at nothing to skim off profit at the expense of general public in Burma. Besides, the government soldiers in ethnic areas regularly commit various forms of vicious human rights violations including; rape, torture, extra judicial killing, forced relocation, and forced labour. The junta's army is notorious for recruiting child soldiers. To stop the military's violence in Burma and other countries, the Amnesty International is advocating for a total ban on illegal arms sales.

These are difficult days for all Burmese democracy advocates inside Burma. Prominent political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi continue to suffer neglect and abuse behind locked doors. Brave student leaders are in prison and subject to maltreatment of various kinds. The former United Nations special rapporteur Pinheiro recently commented that it is very important to stop pursuing the junta's "road map to a consolidation of the military regime" in place of democracy in Burma. At present, Burmese opposition groups in exile, including the NCUB, Members of Parliamentary Union (MPU), and International Burmese Monks Organization or Sasana Moli have submitted a petition challenging the credentials of the Burmese junta at the United Nations which will be discussed by the UN Credentials Committee.

Meanwhile the ethnic nationalities have been carefully studying various forms of democratic systems that will safe guard their rights. The Karens' tragedy that began after being left out of Burma's constitutional process at independence, and the Shans' and other natives' grievances from the loss of rights promised under Panglong agreement, will have to be sorted out. Nothing is final yet, but based on their past experiences under both democracy and authoritarianism, ethnic politicians have indicated their willingness to compromise; for example--to give up the right of secession-- in exchange for a guaranteed protection for ethnic rights of self determination, under a democratic federal system.

Dent (2004) wrote that, in Burma, the threat of a death sentence hangs over any group which seeks to ally the minority peoples with the Burmese NLD resistance. For this reason the imprisoned ethnic political leaders like Khun Htun Oo and others are being severely punished by the military junta. And the assassination of Pado Mahn Sha last February was also possibly motivated by his potential to bring together different political factions and ethnic rebels for a united opposition to the junta's solo-party constitutional referendum in May.

But to bring everyone including the military together now, leaders from powerful nations such as the United States will need to intervene. Since companies doing business in oil, gas, and other natural products with the military junta are mostly from democratic nations, including the United States and U.K.; they must together find ways to help end the violent political conflicts in Burma. Most importantly the United States will need to form a strong alliance with other crucial nations to put pressure on the Burmese military until all political prisoners and ethnic nationalities are free to participate in a genuine political dialogue and meaningful national reconciliation process.

According to Martin J. Dent (2004), this is a favourable moment that must be institutionalized through serious discussion to produce a concrete agreement in Burma while both urban elites and rural ethnic rebels are struggling for liberation from a common tyranny. In addition, the United States can also apply knowledge from its own struggle against racial inequality, and lessons from tribal politics and democracy promotion in Iraq, to help Burma. In spite of on going war, economic turmoil, and debilitating hurricane, it is unlikely that United States will be overtaken as the world most powerful nation any time soon. At a time when pets in the U.S. are better protected than babies in China, the burden to lead naturally falls on the shoulder of United States and its allies. Therefore, Burmese people are anxiously waiting to see what the next U.S. president will do to help them.

During the Saffron Revolution the monk leader Ashin Gambira and over 200 monks were arrested, possibly tortured, and some were murdered. At present the military continues to arrest and torture even the family members of the monks. And recently, some soldiers entered a monastery in Burma to force young novice monks to join the army. This action has left many in Burma wondering whether the generals will stop at nothing until Buddhism is completely wiped out from Burma.

There is now a distinct possibility that Burmese military's extremism, if left undisturbed, will turn Burma into an Asian 'Middle East.' Until now the political opposition in Burma is solely committed to convincing the government and the international community to bring political change peacefully. But since last year, when unarmed and innocent people were attacked by well armed military dictators while the international community watched and did nothing, a crucial turning point has been reached in the mind of many Burmese.

Not unlike the Palestine, problems in Burma should concern everyone especially those who are profiting from Burma. Sympathy for the Burmese people is already growing among armed militants from outside, who believe that they should help the oppressed people of Burma if no one else will. Notably since the military reserves the most savage treatment for Burmese Muslims from the time of independence; and the junta also continues to practice inhumane discrimination laws against other minorities such as Hindus and Chinese in Burma as well.

A Palestinian American student recently told a friend that he saw the movie 'Rambo,' three times. Even though he was not a militant or an extremist, he felt great sympathy for the people fighting for their homeland inside Burma. According to a report, Karen rebel leaders have already refused an offer of arms from outside militant extremists. But Burma is overflowing with frustrated and angry youths who are uneducated and terribly impoverished. Their powerlessness in the hands of violent regime does not bode well for peace in Burma or the region.

Interestingly, the fortune of China, a major supporter of Burmese junta, seems to begin turning south during the past year. First there was a violent Tibetan revolt and bloody crackdown in China followed by bitter condemnations from around the world. And China's stock market began to slide steadily since September last year for the first time in its short history, and then came devastating earth quake. Today, Chinese babies are dying from a deliberate poisoning of their milk by greedy people.

May be it is time for the Burmese junta and China to apologize to the monks and make amends. It is never too late to opt for a fair and honest democracy instead of continuing with a fraudulent and greedy authoritarianism.

The monks' blood on the street of Burma has clearly drawn a line between good and evil. Surely, the freedom for peaceful monks and Burmese people is a common cause that should concern everyone. As Thomas Paine, the master of democracy said, 'the sun has never shined on a cause of greater worth.'

(May Ng is the New York regional director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma. To view her poems about Burma, please visit:

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Killer baby formula sold to Burma, Bangladesh

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The scope of China's contaminated baby formula case grew Wednesday as officials reported the death of a third infant and a spike in those made ill by it.

At the same time, China's largest producer of milk, Mengniu Dairy Group, announced the recall of three batches of formula made in January. Testing showed they were contaminated.

More than 6,200 babies have been sickened by the tainted milk powder, said Li Changjiang, China's director of quarantine and inspection, up from about 1,200 on Tuesday.

More than 1,300 infants are hospitalized. The illnesses include malnutrition, kidney stones and acute renal failure.

Originally Chinese officials said all of the tainted formula had remained in China, other than a small amount that was exported to Taiwan. But Li said Wednesday that the powder has also been shipped to five other nations, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Yemen, Chad and Burundi.

Recalls of the products by the Yashili and Suokang companies have been made, according to Li.

Of China's 175 baby milk powder production companies, 66 have already stopped production, Li said. Investigators are testing samples at the rest.

Two brothers who sold fresh milk used to produce contaminated baby milk powder were arrested by Chinese investigators Monday and could face death if convicted, according to China Daily, the state-run newspaper.

The raw milk had been watered down and a chemical added to fool quality checks, the newspaper said.

The scandal prompted China agricultural officials to start a nationwide inspection of its dairy industry.

While 19 people were detained for questioning, the only ones arrested so far are the brothers who supplied about three tons of milk each day to the Sanlu Group, which manufactured the baby formula, the paper said.

Investigators said the brothers confessed to watering down the raw milk and mixing in tripolycyanamide, also known as melamine. They said they did it to recover losses suffered when the factory rejected earlier milk shipments, the paper reported.

The brothers are charged with producing and selling toxic and hazardous food, which carries a possible death penalty, the paper said.

Health experts say ingesting melamine can lead to kidney stones, urinary tract ulcers, and eye and skin irritation.

The chemical is commonly used in coatings and laminates, wood adhesives, fabric coatings, ceiling tiles and flame retardants.

Sanlu Group has recalled more than 8,200 tons of the tainted formula following reports of sickened babies, Xinhua said.

Beijing (dpa) - Two Chinese firms where tests found tainted milk products had exported baby formula milk powder to five countries including Bangladesh and Burma, the government said on Wednesday.

The Suokang and Yashili companies had started to recall their exported milk powder products, which were also sent to Yemen, Burundi and Gabon, said Li Changjiang, the head of the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

An earlier report said no melamine was found after experts tested samples of Yashili's milk powder earmarked for export.

Suokang was based in the eastern city of Qingdao and Yashili in the southern province of Guangdong, Li told reporters.

Both firms were among the 22 companies where the ministry found 69 batches of milk powder tainted with melamine, he said.

Three babies have died, 158 children have developed "serious kidney problems" and 6,244 infants have been sickened by baby formula contaminated with melamine, health officials said on Wednesday.

Police in the northern province of Hebei have charged four people in connection with the largest case of melamine contamination and detained 22 others, state media said.

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Undeterred: The People's Desire

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 21:05

New Delhi - In an effort to prevent yet another peoples' uprising, Burma's military government has stepped up security measures, ordering police forces to remain overnight at local ward administrative offices, sources said.

A Secretary of a Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC) office in Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, said at least two policemen have been ordered to stay overnight at every local ward administrative office since the beginning of September.

"In our township there are several ward offices, and at every office at least two policemen have been kept overnight to keep watch since September 4," the Secretary told Mizzima on Saturday.

The Secretary, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said she and her colleagues in the office have been told that police would be standing guard throughout the month of September.

"I don't know what they [government] are worried of, but we were told to keep close watch over peoples' movements, and keep record of participants if there is any kind of protest," she added.

Meanwhile in Rangoon, a police officer in-charge of a township confirmed that he has had to assign junior police to routinely stay overnight in ward level administrative offices.

"I have to make sure that at least three to four police are staying overnight in the ward offices, so that if there is any kind of anti-government activity they can be easily available for action," the officer explained.

The police officer, who also requested anonymity, said while he is not clear of the intentions of the government, he was told to maintain strict vigilance throughout the month of September.

"I think it is out of fear that another round of protests would break out this September," the officer elaborated.

In Rangoon, owners of restaurants, shops and tea stalls, which usually open until late at night, said local authorities informed them earlier this month to close latest by 11 p.m. and not to extend business hours.

While authorities have not provided any reason for the order, restaurants and shop owners said they believe it could be related to the fear that further protests, similar to those of September 2007, will take place.

In September 2007, Buddhist monks declared a nation-wide boycott against the ruling junta for their misbehavior towards fellow monks who were marching peacefully and chanting 'Metta', the Buddhist words of loving kindness, in central Burma's Pakokku town.

The monks, who called on the government to publicly apologize for their misbehavior, stepped up the boycott and called on the people to join them in a nation-wide protest after the junta refused to make a public apology.

Thousands of Burmese people across the country on September 19 began marching the streets, while in Rangoon, the former capital, tens of thousands of people filled the streets demanding lower commodity prices and calling for a public apology.

Soon, the protests took a decidedly political turn, with monks, students, and political activists calling on the junta to hold a political dialogue with opposition parties in an effort to kick-start a process of political reformation.

But the military, which has a tradition of brutally cracking down on any form of anti-government activity, on September 26, began opening fire on protestors and conducted midnight raids into houses and monasteries, arresting key monk and activist leaders.

Continued crackdown
Throughout the past year the junta has continuously arrested activists, beginning with the arrest of prominent student activists of the 88 generation, including Min Ko Naing and 12 of his colleagues on August 21, 2007.

The latest arrest of an activist was on September 11, when authorities arrested female activist Nilar Thein, who had been on the run for over a year since she led protestors in August and September 2007.

The junta has also arrested several other activists including human rights activist Myint Aye, charging him with masterminding bomb explosions in Burma.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma (AAPP-B) – the number of political prisoners in jails across the country increased to more than 2,000 from slightly over 1,000 before the crackdown on protestors in September 2007.

The AAPP in its press statement said that in August 2008 alone Burma's ruling junta arrested 39 activists and continued to detain at least 21 of them, while releasing the others after brief interrogations.

No sign of activism
With the junta vigorously taking measures to prevent another round of protests, the streets of Rangoon, which overflowed with protestors last September, seem today to be normal and do not carry any sign of activism, local residents report.

Aung Thu Nyien, a former student activist who now analyses Burmese political affairs, said that with key activists arrested and detained, mass protests this year are unlikely.

"People are becoming tired and do not seem to have any more energy for another protest," said Aung Thu Nyien, pointing out that the devastation caused by May's deadly cyclone that stormed into Burma's Irrawaddy and Rangoon Divisions only added to the weariness on the streets.

The Secretary of the TPDC in Mandalay said that though the authorities seem to be in a precarious state, she does not find anything suspicious in the movement of the people that could indicate that there will be any kind of protest in the immediate future.

"For all I can see, the people are too busy struggling with their daily lives. I don't see anything suspicious and I don't think people have the time and energy," she added.

A Christian pastor in Mandalay, who has connections with people at the grass roots level, commented, "I see people are really struggling to live their lives because it is really difficult for them to make ends meet."

Sean Turnell, an associate professor in the department of economics at Australia's Macquarie University, added, "If we just focus on the fact that economic conditions are now worse than those that drove people onto the streets last year, widespread protests should be imminent."

But, he cautioned, with the people of Burma having witnessed the brutality and ruthlessness of their government in two recent incidents – in the repression of the Saffron Revolution and in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis – people seem to be scared to initiate another uprising.

"So, in a sense, the people are more aware now that the costs of an uprising could be very high for them as individuals," continued Turnell.

People's desire
Turnell said the Burmese people, having gone through decades of economic hardship as a result of the junta's economic mismanagement, wished for some kind of security – both physical and economic.

"I think people first just want the freedom that comes from having a margin above mere subsistence," Turnell went on to say.

Secondly, Turnell said people just want Burma to be a normal country, where there is some hope for the future, and where parents can expect, as parents elsewhere do, that their children will have a better life than they did.

"But, I think currently in Burma the opposite is true - this makes Burma unique, and a very sad place," Turnell added.

The Christian pastor said the Burmese people, in their struggle for survival, would very much like to see the government, if not supportive, at least refrain from serving as an obstacle to improved conditions.

"There is a general feeling of fear among the people anytime they bump into the authorities. People just want to avoid anything having to do with the government," the pastor added.

Turnell, however, said he believes no amount of government repression can subdue the peoples' spirit and desire to live in freedom, meaning that resistance from the people will continue.

Though so far the government "has done enough, and has been ruthless enough, to avoid any widespread uprising," it has failed to totally suppress the people.

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Myanmar monk in suicide bid at famous temple

AP News:

YANGON, Myanmar: A Buddhist monk tried to kill himself this week at Myanmar's most sacred temple in an apparent protest against economic hardship, witnesses said Wednesday.

The monk, who appeared to be in his fifties, was taken to Yangon General Hospital after slashing his own throat Tuesday afternoon at the hilltop Shwedagon Pagoda, said the witnesses, who asked not to be named so as not to draw the attention of the country's military authorities.

"The monk said he tried to kill himself because he was desperate. He said he came to Yangon to take medical treatment and he ran out of money," said one of the trustees of the pagoda, who also asked for anonymity.

The trustee said the monk, whose name has not been released, was in stable condition.

It was the second suicide bid by a monk at the pagoda this year.

In March, 26-year-old Kyaw Zin Naing set himself on fire at the temple after shouting anti-government slogans, according to witnesses. He died later of burn injuries.

Witnesses to Tuesday's suicide bid did not hear the monk shout any anti-government slogans.

The Shwedagon temple has a history as a center for mass political gatherings, and was a focus for Buddhist monks and pro-democracy protesters last September.

Tuesday's incident occurred at a time when the authorities have tightened security in Yangon and other cities to try to prevent any protests this month marking the first anniversary of last year's mass anti-government demonstrations.

Those protests began as small demonstrations complaining that the military government had failed to ease the economic burdens of the people. They later turned into broader anti-government protests, spearheaded by militant monks and bringing as many as 100,000 people out into the streets on Yangon, the country's biggest city.

The army eventually stepped in to quash the peaceful protests by force, killing at least 31 people and detaining hundreds.

Another political significant anniversary is being marked this week. On Sept. 18, 1988, the army intervened to smash massive pro-democracy demonstrations and grab absolute power from a weak interim government, suspending the constitution.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The next UN’s game-plan: To stop Playing Harp for the Buffalos

Mizzima: Commentary
Myat Soe
Monday, 15 September 2008 19:14

Though the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed frustration at the failure of Burmese generals--to take "tangible steps" to include Aung San Suu Kyi and other political opposition parties in their roadmap to democracy, and to open up the political process; the military junta continues arresting members of the NLD-National League for Democracy and human rights activists in Burma. It is clear that the military regime is bent on excluding the entire NLD, its leadership, and other political opposition organisations from the planned 2010 general elections.

Since the brutal and unprovoked mob attack on the NLD on 30 May 2003, which became known as the Depeyin Massacre, the generals became increasingly more distrustful and unwilling to hold a dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, or other political opposition parties. Even after the September 2007 people's uprising, led by the revered Burmese monks, which was dubbed 'Saffron Revolution', no tangible political progress has been made. The regime did not free Daw Aung San Suu Kyi or other political prisoners as the international community headed by the UN has urged.

The house arrest of U Tin Oo, the deputy leader of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was extended. More political prisoners have been locked up. Therefore, we, the people of Burma, insist that by using their power and influence the international community, governments, and institutions, the United Nations increase the pressure on the Burmese junta to stop the ongoing political oppression and violation of human rights inside Burma.

By continuing to arrest members of the opposition, Burmese generals are defying the wishes of the international community to pursue democratization and national reconciliation in Burma. The actions of the Burmese junta indicate a major turnaround from the demand of the United Nations. They are intentionally undermining the on-going regional and international efforts to end the political conflict peacefully.

It is important for the UN to be aware that the Burmese opposition and pro-democracy forces have lost faith in the good offices of the United Nations after Mr. Gambari's latest futile mission, where he is believed to have given into full exploitation by the military regime. It is clear that Gambari's recent mission to resolve the political impasse between the military junta and detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has come to a standstill.

However, according to Mr. Gambari-- Mr. Ban Ki-moon will visit Burma in December to attempt to resolve the conflict between the military and the opposition. But to make Mr. Ban's visit meaningful the regime must show that they are committed to a genuine political reform. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon's trip is a encouraging step, but he should not participate in the charade that will portray him as playing a harp in front of the buffaloes, again. The previous United Nations' soft approach to Burmese Generals is not working and it is time for tougher measures by using the maximum UN leverage on this notorious junta.

How can there be free and fair general elections when real representatives of the people, together with 2,000 other prisoners of conscience, are still under lock and key? The UN and regional leaders must understand that unconditional release of all political prisoners, and lifting of all restrictions on their political activities, along with an unfettered and independent media, are necessary prerequisites to begin a genuine political process to end this violent and protracted conflict in Burma.

(The writer Myat Soe is a former Central Executive Committee member of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (1988) and currently serves as the Research Director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma. He graduated from Indiana University, and earned his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.)

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ၿပည္တြင္း စက္တင္ဘာ ေရႊ၀ါေရာင္ေတာ္လွန္းေရးလႈပ္ရွားမႈ

စက္တင္ဘာ ေရႊ၀ါေရာင္ေတာ္လွန္းေရးတစ္ႏွစ္ျပည္႔ႏွစ္ပတ္္လည္ ႏွင္႔ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္အေပၚနအဖစစ္အစိုးရဧ။္လူအခြင္႔အေရးခ်ဳိိုးေဖာက္မႈေတြကိုကန္႔ကြက္ဆန္႔က်င္ေသာအား ျဖင္႔ GENERATION WAVE မွ POSTERS ႏွင္႔ POST CARDS CAMPAIGN မ်ားစတင္လႈပ္ရွားေနျပီးျဖစ္ေၾကာင္းအသိိေပးအပ္ပါသည္။

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Ailing Suu Kyi accepts food rations: Myanmar official

YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar's detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has accepted food rations for the first time in a month, an official said Tuesday, after her doctor found her so weak that he placed her on a drip.

he doctor administered intravenous fluids Sunday to the 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been confined to her lakeside Yangon home for most of the last 19 years, the official said.

"She accepted her food supplies Monday evening, after she was given a drip by her doctor, who found that she was too weak on Sunday," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Her lawyer Kyi Win on Monday described her as "malnourished" after she had refused to accept her daily rations since August 16.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party released a statement Tuesday saying that she was not staging a hunger strike, but was eating "thriftily" from the small supplies stored in her home.

However, the NLD said that her health was weakening because she had given most of the stored food to her ailing housekeeper.

"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was eating thriftily because she gave her food to her housekeeper, Daw Khin Khin Win, who is not in good health," the statement said, using an honorific before her name. "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's health is weakening."

Khin Khin Win and her daughter stay voluntarily in the home to care for the woman known here simply as "The Lady." The maid's daughter was hospitalised on Friday with kidney problems.

Concerns for Aung San Suu Kyi's health have mounted over the last month.

The lawyer Kyi Win has also denied that she was on a hunger strike, but said she had stopped accepting food deliveries to press for greater human rights.

Her action came amid a rare series of meetings with Kyi Win to discuss filing a formal legal appeal against detention.

Kyi Win has also been in talks with military officials on loosening the terms of her confinement, by allowing her to receive magazines and letters from her family, or allowing her maids to move freely in and out of her home.

The Myanmar official said that Aung San Suu Kyi had been allowed to receive copies of news magazines such as Time and Newsweek, but so far she had not been allowed to receive any messages from her family.

She has had no communication from her two sons since 2003, according to NLD.

Both the government official and NLD spokesman Nyan Win said that she would likely meet with the junta's liaison officer later this week, if her strength improves.

"We hope there will be some progress and good results after the meeting," Nyan Win said.

"We are also expecting to develop to higher-level talks between Daw Suu and senior leadership from this dialogue," he added.

Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to meet with anyone other than her lawyer and her doctor since early August, declining to hold talks with visiting UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari and with the liaison officer, Labour Minister Aung Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD won a landslide victory in a 1990 election but the junta never allowed it to take office. The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962.


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

The U.N. Must Stop Enabling the Burmese Regime

by Brett D. Schaefer

The Southeast Asian country of Burma (renamed Myanmar by the country's ruling junta in 1989) attracted international criticism following a violent crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in September. This brutal response, resulting in the deaths of at least 15 protestors (most independent observers estimate the number killed to be much higher), is typical of the junta, which has long been accused of human rights violations, including mistreatment of ethnic minorities and forced labor. Despite its routine violation of the most fundamental rights of its citizens in contravention of the United Nations Charter, Burma is a U.N. member in good standing and regularly receives assistance from the U.N. and its affiliated funds and programs. Until the recent press attention, the U.N. Human Rights Council ignored the human rights abuses perpetrated by the government on its citizens. Even after the crackdown, the U.N. has not imposed sanctions on Burma or the junta due to opposition from veto-wielding permanent members China and Russia. The United States should take steps within the U.N. to prevent the oppressive regime in Burma from using the privileges of the organization, including access to its resources and assistance, to benefit itself and further repress its citizens.

The U.N. and Burma

The United Nations was founded in 1945 to maintain international peace and security and undertake collective measures to remove threats to peace; to promote equal rights and self-determination of peoples; to help solve problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character; and to encourage "social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom." In the Charter, member states pledge "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women."[1] U.N. treaties and conventions, such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which the General Assembly passed in 1948, form the core of international standards for human rights.

Few members of the United Nations violate the founding principles of the United Nations as regularly and profoundly as the junta in charge of Burma.

* Political repression. The people of Burma have been denied the right to self-determination, the most basic human right recognized by the United Nations. Military regimes have ruled Burma since 1962. The current regime, which seized power in 1988, permitted a national election in 1990, refused to recognize its loss, and has confined the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, for 12 years since the election. Thousands of Buddhist monks and Burmese citizens staged a series of peaceful demonstrations in September 2007 to demand "freedom, democracy and respect for human rights." The ruling military junta responded to these demonstrations with a violent crackdown on the monks and unarmed civilian demonstrators that "resulted in ten deaths [the government now acknowledges 15] and the imprisonment of some 4,000, according to the regime. Diplomatic sources, however, state that the numbers of those killed, injured and imprisoned are much higher than those officially reported."[2] Following the recent crackdown on demonstrators, the U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution strongly deploring "the continued violent repression of peaceful demonstrations in Myanmar."[3]
* Human rights violations. The Burmese regime poses a serious danger to the Burmese people. Protesters and dissidents are routinely beaten, tortured, and killed. The U.S. Department of State reports:

The regime continued to abridge the right of citizens to change their government.... In addition, the government continued to commit other serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, disappearances, rape, and torture. The government abused prisoners and detainees, held persons in harsh and life threatening conditions, routinely used incommunicado detention, and imprisoned citizens arbitrarily for political motives.... The government restricted freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. The government did not allow domestic human rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to function independently, and international NGOs encountered a hostile environment. Violence and societal discrimination against women continued, as did forced recruitment of child soldiers, discrimination against ethnic minorities, and trafficking in persons, particularly of women and girls. Workers rights remained restricted, and forced labor, including that of children, also persisted.[4]

The United Nations has also condemned Burma for human rights violations. The Third Committee of the General Assembly passed a resolution expressing "grave concern at ongoing systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar; the continuing use of torture; deaths in custody; political arrests and continuing imprisonment and other detentions, denial of freedom of assembly, association, expression and movement, and the prevailing culture of impunity"[5] and called on the government to end those practices.

* Government-caused poverty and underdevelopment. When Burma won independence from Britain in 1948, the country was one of Asia's brightest economic prospects. Burma possessed rich natural resources and a well-developed agricultural sector that earned the country the title of "the rice bowl of Asia." Nearly 60 years later, and despite receiving nearly $14 billion in total official development assistance between 1960 and 2006, Burma is one of the world's most impoverished, undeveloped, and isolated countries.[6] According to the Index of Economic Freedom, Burma is a "repressed" economy, ranking 153rd out of 157 countries in terms of economic freedom.[7] Burma is ranked 29th out of 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, besting only North Korea. Repressive economic policies imposed by the military junta, such as forcing farmers to sell rice to the government at below market prices and restricting movement and trade, have directly contributed to an estimated 5 million people lacking sufficient food, according to the World Food Program. According to U.N. estimates, a third of all Burmese children under five years of age are underweight, and 10 percent are considered "wasted" or acutely malnourished. Burma's child mortality rates are among the worst in Asia.[8]

The repressive policies of the Burmese government have led the United States and other Western nations to suspend foreign assistance to Burma and apply economic sanctions to the regime.[9] These nations have used their influence to constrain Burma's access to assistance from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which have not made new loans to Burma since the 1980s.

Few other nations have taken similar actions. The member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Burma is a member, have been unwilling to act against Burma, aside from harshly criticizing the recent political crackdown.[10] China has focused on securing access to Burma's resources and refuses to take steps that would undermine that goal; worse, it has increased its ties to Burma,as has India.[11]

Most disappointing is the lack of action by the United Nations. Many of Burma's actions are in contravention of multilateral agreements, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the founding principles of the U.N. Yet Burma is treated no differently than any other nation within the U.N. organization. Burma is permitted to participate in all U.N. activities without restriction or consequence for its repudiation of fundamental U.N. principles. Indeed, Burma's junta has not only gone unreprimanded but also has reaped the fruits of U.N. programs and assistance:

* Burma has evaded sanction by the U.N. Security Council. The evidence of human rights violations by the Burmese junta is extensive and well documented. In violation of its obligations under the U.N. Charter, the country has denied its citizens the right to self-determination in addition to undermining other basic human rights and fundamental freedoms espoused in the Charter. The government has conducted a vicious campaign against ethnic minorities that has caused an estimated 540,000 people to be internally displaced and hundreds of thousands of others to flee to neighboring countries.[12] The Security Council, however, has failed to sanction Burma for flagrantly violating central provisions of the Charter or for its actions that have created a refugee crisis. After years of ignoring the situation in Burma, the Security Council voted to place the situation in Burma on its formal agenda in September 2006, which allows any member of the Council to raise the item for discussion.[13] This has not spurred action by the Council, however. A U.S.- and U.K.-sponsored resolution calling on the Burmese government to cease attacks on civilians in ethnic minority areas and lift restrictions on political freedoms and human rights failed to pass in January 2007 due to vetoes from Russia and China.[14] An October 11, 2007, statement by the president of the Security Council strongly deplored the political crackdown and called on the government to release political prisoners.[15] A November 15 Security Council press release reiterated these concerns and stated that the "members of the Security Council confirm their intention to keep developments in Myanmar under close review."[16] The U.N. Human Rights Council[17] and the Third Committee of the General Assembly,[18] to their credit, have both passed resolutions condemning the situation in Burma. However, these resolutions are non-binding and affect the Burmese junta minimally, if at all.
* Burma serves in high-level positions in the U.N. and its affiliated funds and programs. Burma currently serves as a vice president on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) despite its dismal record of mistreatment of children, and serves as a member of the Commission on Social Development, a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), despite its well documented repression of civil society and minority ethnic groups. Burma served as Chairman of the Fourth Committee (Special and Political and Decolonization Committee), one of the Main Committees of the General Assembly, in 2004. Myanmar was on the Governing Body of the United Nations Environment Program as recently as 2005.
* Burma benefits from U.N. assistance. As Western nations have applied sanctions and reduced foreign assistance, the Burmese government has increasingly relied on the U.N. for assistance. The U.N. and its affiliated organizations spent $218 million in Burma from 2002 through 2005. In 2005, more than 70 percent of these funds were spent by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), UNICEF, and the World Food Program. Other U.N.-affiliated organizations active in Burma include the World Health Organization, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. Population Fund, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labor Organization, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).[19] Though the governing board of the UNDP has directed the UNDP to "work directly with the Burmese people at the grass roots level and not through the regime," other U.N. entities have not adopted similar restrictions.[20] In addition, it is difficult to see how the UNDP board's direction could possibly be implemented. According to the GAO, Burma's regime:

[H]as blocked international efforts to monitor prison conditions, and, until recently, forced labor cases. The regime has also significantly restricted international assistance to populations living in conflict areas, and, to a lesser degree, impeded food, development, and health programs....

The regime formalized its restrictions on the international organizations in 2006 by publishing guidelines to govern their activities in Burma. The guidelines, if fully implemented, would further tighten regime controls over these activities and contain provisions that UN officials consider to be unacceptable.

International organization officials informed us that the regime had become more restrictive of their activities since 2004.... The regime has also begun pressuring some international organizations to work more closely with regime-sponsored political mobilization groups, such as the Union Solidarity Development Association. A senior UN official in Burma told us that since 2004 the regime has made the operating environment for UN organizations far more difficult than before. [21]

Moreover, the Burmese government has increasingly clamped down on independent non-governmental organizations, limiting the ability of U.N. programs to skirt government restrictions. The Burmese junta has exploited the eagerness of the UNDP and other U.N.-affiliated organizations to operate in the country to support the agenda of the government. For instance, according to a Thailand-based human rights organization, the military junta has used large internationally funded projects to further its political agenda and undermine the rights of its citizens.[22] The Karen Human Rights Group released a 121-page report in April 2007 that asserts that UNDP, which funds educational programs such as teacher training and informal education, is

restricted from accessing and thus implementing and monitoring their programmes in most areas of Karen State. In [Burmese government] regulations released in December 2006 covering the work of UN agencies, such restrictions were deemed necessary in order to restrict movement and prevent 'unpleasant incidents'. In this manner the [military government of Burma] is able to utilise access to UN educational programmes as yet another means of asserting military control over the civilian population.[23]

The report further asserts that forced labor may be being used for U.N. projects and that U.N. funding, including UNDP funding, supports programs, such as the state-controlled Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association, that employ extortion and forced recruitment to "expand military control over the population while divesting itself of the cost of operating programmes and simultaneously legitimising its policies in the name of development."[24] The same report indicates that FAO, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and some notable NGOs have similarly supported government programs.

The False Hope of Engagement

The U.N. organizations have defended their activities by arguing that "their organizations are still able to achieve meaningful results in their efforts to address Burma's development, humanitarian, and health problems, despite the regime's post-2004 restrictions."[25] Similarly, the U.N. uses its presence to provide incentives for the Burmese government to cooperate with U.N. experts and envoys seeking to nudge the regime toward a more open political system.

There is little evidence that U.N. assistance, incentives, or other engagement efforts are leading the junta to change its ways. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in U.N. assistance, the Burmese government has only tightened its grip on the country and further restricted the ability of U.N. organizations and NGOs to operate in the country. The government impeded efforts by the U.N. envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, and the U.N. human rights envoy to Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, to visit the country. When peaceful protests erupted in September 2007, the Burmese government reacted with brutal rapidity, killing protesters, arresting thousands, and cutting off media and Internet access to conceal their actions.

Only when international outrage over the recent crackdown precipitated increased sanctions from Western countries and harsh condemnations from ASEAN, the Security Council, and the U.N. Human Rights Council did the Burmese government react. The government agreed to let Gambari visit the country and meet with opposition leaders. It also allowed Piniero back in the country after his four-year hiatus to evaluate the human rights situation, as is his mission. [26] It released many of the political prisoners arrested in the recent protests and did not dismiss entirely a proposal to negotiate with Aung San Suu Kyi.

There is every indication, however, that these gestures were calculated to buy time. Crises in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere have shifted focus away from Burma, and the conclusion of the annual ASEAN leaders meeting has eased the pressure from its immediate neighbors.[27] The Burmese government continues to imprison Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of other political prisoners, attack and repress minorities, and constrain the ability of U.N. and NGO representatives to provide assistance without interference from the government. The Burmese junta expelled the head of the U.N. office in Burma for making "inappropriate" comments on the "deteriorating humanitarian condition" in Burma.[28] The leader of the junta, Senior General Than Shwe, refused to meet with Gambari during his visit. The junta also refused to enter into a three-way meeting between the government, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Gambari. It refused to release Aung San Suu Kyi and continues to deny the severity of its actions in the crackdown.

The reaction by ASEAN and the U.N. to the Burmese government's refusal to change tack is muted and focused on engaging the Burmese government by providing "incentives to encourage the authorities [in Burma] to go along the path to making a stable, democratic Myanmar with full respect for human rights" and "strong encouragement of the authorities in Myanmar to do the right thing."[29] This is the same failed strategy that preceded the recent crackdown. In short, it is business as usual in Burma now that the attention of the international community and the media has shifted elsewhere.

Recommendations for the United States

The lesson of recent history should be clear: The Burmese government's record of responding to incentives is poor. Movement has come only after strong condemnation by ASEAN, the U.N., and other nations. The Burmese government made cosmetic concessions out of marginal consideration for ASEAN on the eve of its annual summit and a calculation that it could stem calls for wider, rigorous application of sanctions at virtually no political cost. With the spotlight now elsewhere, the recent minimal progress has already begun to unwind. Therefore, the U.S. should use its influence to:

* Broaden sanctions on Burma through the U.N. Security Council to include all U.N. member states. The international community must take a much harder line on Burma if it hopes to change the junta's behavior. Thus far, only a few countries have applied sanctions to accompany their condemnation. For the most part, these countries merely strengthened existing sanctions.[30] If Burma is to feel the pinch, sanctions must be applied by its neighbors and primary trade partners: China, India, Singapore, Thailand, and the other ASEAN nations. An arms embargo and a freeze on the junta's assets--and those of its associates and supporters--through a binding U.N. Security Council resolution could bring real pressure to bear on a regime that cares about little else. Until this happens, Burma will feel little consequence. The U.S. should again seek sanctions in the Security Council as the most appropriate means for broadening sanctions on Burma. Even though such efforts will likely be blocked by China, they will keep attention on the situation in Burma and the junta's intransigence, as well as Chinese efforts to support their client.
* Tighten rules governing U.N. activities in Burma. While the governing board of the UNDP has officially adopted a policy of not working through the regime, other U.N. entities lack these restrictions and regularly work with the junta on joint projects or fund programs of the government. Moreover, even though the UNDP has these restrictions in place, there are indications that UNDP funds are, likely inadvertently, supporting government projects and reprehensible policies like forced labor. The U.S. should seek to extend the UNDP's prohibitions on working with the Burmese government to all activities by U.N.-affiliated organizations in the country. It should further insist on tightening existing rules to prevent assistance from inadvertently supporting government programs, priorities, and activities. The U.S. should support a freeze on all U.N. assistance and activities in Burma not effectively governed by these tighter rules. The few benefits gained for the general Burmese public through ongoing efforts are more than offset by U.N. activities that benefit the junta and aid its repression.


Burma is a prominent example of how a nation can routinely violate the principles of the U.N. with little penalty or consequence to its standing in the organization. The concern for the people of Burma on the part of U.N. organizations is sincere and warranted, but their eagerness to assist the people of Burma against the predations of the ruling junta is being exploited by the regime to strengthen its own grip on the country. The U.N. must send a clear message to the leaders of Burma that their repression and abuse will not be tolerated or subsidized by the U.N. or its affiliated organizations.

Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

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On Myanmar, UN Visits As Possible Leverage, China and India Want Ground Cover, Some Friends Say

Amb. Natalegawa, at right, with UK Amb. Sawers, all among Friends, ASSK not shown

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, September 12 -- In a meeting in the UN basement barely covered by the press, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Group of Friends for Myanmar met for two hours on Friday, to review Ban's envoy Ibrahim Gambari's recent visit and try to agree on steps to move forward. The Group carries with it the same split as within the Security Council's Permanent Five members -- the U.S., France and UK against China and these days more than ever Russia -- and also has India, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia, Norway, Japan, South Korea, and the European Union presidency, represented Friday by EU envoy Piero Fassino. Indonesia has been described as the bring, between Myanmar's Eastern neighbors and Westerners who speak of freeing Burma. So after Friday's meeting, Inner City Press asked Indonesia's Ambassador Marty Natalegawa what consensus if any was reached.

Amb. Natalegawa said that some "are always trying to oversimplify and caricature where we are, either exuberantly positive or extremely negative." The reality, he said, is somewhere in between. Another ASEAN diplomat stopped and told Inner City Press that by his count, the Government of Myanmar had responded positively to two of the five goals Gambari had been sent with, and had acknowledged but not given ground on three of them. "Four years ago, this visit would have been described as successful," the ASEAN Ambassador said.

On deeper background, out of the view of the Ambassadors streaming out from the meeting room into the rainy streets, a senior diplomat who has spend "many years working on the Myanmar file" but demanded anonymity said that Myanmar's government is reclusive and is ready to go it alone. He said the UN's leverage is to withhold the visits of Gambari and certainly Ban Ki-moon.

But if they are prepared to go it alone, do they care? The diplomat countered that China and India, which both do business in Myanmar, like to have Gambari visiting. It allows them to say that there is a process, that things are on track. So to imply that Gambari won't visit unless Myanmar gives Ban and the UN something of a victory -- for example "the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi" -- just might work, the diplomat said.

Under this analysis, the criticism of Gambari's trip as a failure helps the UN, which can say to Myanmar, we are under pressure, you have to give us something for us to keep visiting. So perhaps the stonewalling for 19 days after Gambari's visit, with Ban Ki-moon having no comment at all, was planned. Perhaps. But following this logic, the UN should make public some of its dissatisfaction and the threat of delay by Gambari. On September 11, however, Ban Ki-moon said don't call the visit a failure. Is this the right diplomatic move?

Footnote: the Group of Friends meeting was slated to run from 3:30 to 4:30. But it continued on, with two staffers coming out from time to time. At 5:10 UK Ambassador John Sawers left; at 5:15 France's Jean-Maurice Ripert followed suit. Only at 5:30 did Ban's flotilla, with Kim Won-soo and Vijay Nambiar, come out without speaking. Might a visit be withheld? We'll see.

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UN chief urges Myanmar junta to include opponents

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed frustration Thursday at the failure of Myanmar's military government to open its political process and urged the junta to take "tangible steps" to include opponents like Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ban spoke to reporters at a news conference while his special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, was briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors on his visit to Myanmar from Aug. 18-23. He failed to see Suu Kyi during the visit.

Gambari said afterward that he told council members the visit "fell below our expectations, particularly with regard to the release of political prisoners and the resumption of dialogue between the government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

"Therefore, it's our view that it's imperative for the government of Myanmar at this point to deliver substantive results...," he said.

Ban refused to call Gambari's visit a failure, telling reporters that he intends to continue to try to make progress through "all possible diplomatic means."

He announced that he will hold a meeting on Friday with ambassadors from concerned member states to discuss ways to promote progress, particularly with countries that may have influence on Myanmar.

"I share the frustration many feel with the situation in Myanmar," Ban said. "We have not seen the political progress I had hoped for. We want to see the parties, in particular the government of Myanmar, take tangible steps toward establishing a credible and inclusive political process in the country, which of course must include progress on human rights."

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been in a political deadlock since 1990, when Suu Kyi's party overwhelmingly won a general election but was not allowed to take power by the military. She has been detained, mainly under house arrest, for 13 of the last 19 years.

The United Nations has tried with little success to nudge the regime toward talks with the opposition, hoping the top generals would respond to international pressure to embrace national reconciliation following its violent suppression of massive, anti-government protests in Yangon last year. Suu Kyi's cancellation of meetings with Gambari was the latest stumble in the U.N.'s bid to promote democracy in Myanmar.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Thursday that Washington believes "more pressure needs to be applied on the (Myanmar) regime."

"The regime is not complying," he said. "It is in defiance of what the international community has asked for. We believe that it is time to deliberate on what to do to be more effective."

British Ambassador John Sawers said the U.N., the Security Council and others "need to reassess the way forward to bring about national reconciliation and democratic government."

"Prospects of moving forward are not at all promising," he said. "We need to understand the frustration that she (Suu Kyi), her supporters and party and indeed the people of Burma are feeling at the lack of progress there."

A statement last month by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy complained about the lack of results from Gambari's trips.

Gambari, who has met with Suu Kyi seven times during five previous visits, said the fact that he didn't meet the detained Nobel Peace Prize winner on this trip "was disappointing to all of us" and meant he couldn't report her views as he had in the past.

He said he didn't know why Suu Kyi didn't meet him, noting that she has previously said the U.N. should be at the center of promoting dialogue between her and the government.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Thai Leader ( A Friend of Burmese Notorious Junta), Ordered to Resign Over TV Show

A court said Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej violated the Constitution by accepting payment for appearing on a cooking show, but his party indicated he would remain.

"I was hired to appear on the program and got paid from time to time. I was not an employee of the company so I did not violate the law," Samak said.

He said the television company paid for his transportation. "I presented the cooking show and got paid for my acting," said Samak.

Thai prime minister Samak Sundaravej's cookery show has landed him in hot water.

ဒီစာကို Select ေပးၿပီးေရးပါ...

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Monday, September 8, 2008

1st Anniversary of Burma Saffron Revolution

Prayer for Burma
By May Ng,

Do you recall the land of golden spires?
Where morning bells are answered with murmurs of saffron prayers
And the silence of bare feet echoing their innocence
In a land overwhelmed by evilness and greed

A message of hope for hearts in deepest despair
In a language of love for a people enduring only callousness and betrayal

As their Meta Sutra chants rose high up above
Reflecting in the stillness of their gaze
You can see great courage and dignity in the eyes of Burmese monks

I remember the summer a lifetime ago
When your soft hair was shaved and the first time you wore your
Thin-gann the novice monk's robe
And your beautiful boyish face was full of determination
With serene downcast eyes

After shedding Shinlaung's ceremonial finery
You remained a Buddhist monk
To devote your life to your people and your religion

I also remember the dark winter nights
When you stayed up late studying Buddha's scripture, poetry and politics
Looking to find answers for your people's suffering

Since last September
The war against evil has only just begun
And I know that you will fight on

I am quite sure that
Your prayer will be answered
Your hopes will come true
And your fight will be won

Not because
Your anger is fiercer
And your power mightier
Or their hatred more bitter

But because
Your cause is just
Your prayers are sincere
Your wishes are true
Your hopes are pure
And your love for Burma is right

You will win in the end

There is nothing to stop your spirit and your hope
No one can silence your prayers for peace and freedom in Burma

We shall never forget our monks who were at the forefront of our march for freedom